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FAQ - FAMILY LAW

Adult Disabled Child: How can I get out from under the child support for an adult?
By Steven Mindel

This FAQ was first published in Couples Company and is reprinted with their permission.

Q. My son lives with his mother, who allowed him to drop out of school two years ago. He already has a learning disability (special ed.). He attended GED classes for 1 1/2 years without ever passing the test. Now he has stopped attending the classes. I'm still paying $320 a month in child support for a nearly 19-year-old man who isn't working; he can't get a job because he has no GED.

His mother wants to move to Florida as soon as she sells her home. Do I have to continue with the support even when he'll be with her in Florida? How can I get emancipated from this child? What do I do?

A. It sounds as though your child's mother is unable to control your son. Her decision to let him drop out of school clearly shows that she doesn't have the ability to parent him. You should meet with a Certified Family Law Specialist in your city to discuss how you can get custody of your son and put him on the right track.

In most jurisdictions, the requirement to pay child support for an adult is based on the child's having severe disabilities. Your son's specific disabilities may qualify him for special programs through your state or local government that may help him become a productive, self-supporting member of society. Perhaps your Certified Family Law Specialist knows of such programs available in your neighborhood.

Your son's mother's decision to move to Florida may not be in his best interests. You should sit down with your son and discuss his thoughts about moving. Many children with disabilities are reluctant to change their environment. It's important to examine the impact of the mother's decision to move to Florida on your son. It's clear that you and his mother don't agree on the issues concerning his education. It's always difficult to co-parent when one parent doesn't value an education.

I wish you the best of luck in this situation,
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